As volunteers within the ESC programme we're strongly encouraged to prepare our own projects.
I was hoping for something that would feel right, but couldn't grasp this ethereal notion quite well. Until I did.
It was a bit of an accident, really. I had a meeting with my mentor and the conversation was flowing through numerous topics, art one of them. I admitted that I like to draw from time to time, so she asked if I've ever given it a thought, to display my work somewhere.
I haven't, not really. My art pieces were there to help me get through tough thought processes, to work through my feelings and emotions and hard truths and then, finally, to be put safely away in a file for no one to see. Ever.
It happened really fast. It feels like I blinked twice and suddenly we were preparing FreirIaum in Würzburg for the exhibition. Queernissage, as we called it. I designed the leaflet and posters. We posted some info on Instagram and ran around the city centre with posters, asking cafes if they could put them up, and left some leaflets as well.
And then the day came.
I expected five friends of mine to come, five friends of the co-author of the exhibition as well and that's it. The co-author thought so too. We miscalculated heavily, because at some point there were around forty people in the room.
I ended up standing and walking around, talking to people and giving tours (four or five of them!) for five hours straight. Last visitors left the place at midnight.
It feels like I finally gave myself a chance to tell my story.
During our first volunteer meeting when we were introducing ourselves, I said "Hello, my name is Andy. I'm non-binary, I use he/him pronouns" and I'm happy I did that. But it always felt like there's way more to the story that I'm not telling and sometimes I didn't know how exactly to react. People usually see me as a man, as I present mostly masculine (non-confomingly with a touch of makeup) and sometimes refer to me as such.
And I'm not a man.
And with all the people willing to listen and interested in it, I shared my coming out and transition story, showing it through 18 artwork pieces.
It felt incredibly liberating to say it all out loud, to explain my background, to share the bits and pieces that I up to this point kept private. Not because I was scared I would get rejected or discriminated against, but because of my experiences basically summing up to "better safe than sorry" when it comes to being queer.
I went out there, stood in the middle of the dim lights of Freiraum and put it all out there.
I'm incredibly grateful to all of the people that showed me support throughout the process of preparation and carrying out the Queernissage itself: my wonderful friends, my mentor, the incredible co-author.
Thank you all for, being there for me and for the most liberating opportunity of my queer life.